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Thursday, 2 June 2011

Rothko's Paintings @ the AGO's Abstract Expressionist Exhibit, Study of Color



In my prior post, I wrote about New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s Abstract Expressionist exhibit at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. I noted that artists were influenced by surrealism, World War II and the Holocaust. They felt a need to create a new and expressive art that chronicled the doubt of the post war environment. The above painting is by American artist, Mark Rothko (1903-1970). In my opinion this painting, No. 5/No. 22 (1950) is non objective art. In abstract art, artists base their forms on natural objects. Their abstractions can vary from a likeness to the object to non familiar forms. Abstract art is different from non-objective art. Non-objective art is based on the artist’s imagination and not derived from anything the artist perceived.

If you are interested in studying the elements of art particularly color, Rothko’s paintings are worthy of study. Rothko used masses of color to have shapes float above and below the picture plane, i.e. cool colors recede, warm colors advance. He used soft edges. When you view this painting “rectangles appear to hover just over its surface. Each of the work’s coloured segments, when stared at individually, affect how you perceive the colour of those adjacent to it. Despite this, Rothko did not want his pictures appreciated solely for their visual qualities. He said, "If you are only moved by colour relationships, then you miss the point. I'm interested in expressing the big emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom."

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